Democrats walk out on Holder contempt vote

More than 100 Democratic members of the U.S. House of Representatives walked out of a Congressional vote to hold U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of Congress over the “Fast and Furious” program.

Related: House votes to hold Holder in contempt

Congressional Black Caucus leaders had circulated a letter calling on members of their caucus, as well as the Asian-American, Hispanic and Progressive caucuses to refuse to participate in today’s vote. The walkout occurred at just after 4 p.m.

The CBC issued the following press release prior to the walk-out:

Washington, D.C.: Today Members of Congress including the Congressional Black, Hispanic, Asian Pacific American, Progressive and Democratic Caucuses will walk off the Floor instead of voting to hold Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of Congress, in order to express their strong opposition to this partisan activity. Earlier today, the House Democratic Caucus voted unanimously to endorse the walkout. This contempt hearing distracts both the Congress in their duty to pass legislation that is pertinent to the American people as well as the Department of Justice from investigating and pursuing real crimes.

The walkout was joined by former House Speaker and current House minority leader Nancy Pelosi, along with 107 of her Democratic colleagues. That left 82 Democrats in the chamber, of whom 65 voted “no” on holding Holder in contempt of Congress, and 17 conservative Democrats voting “yes.”

From The Hill:

Pelosi said during the debate that she would join the walkout, and told Democrats it’s up to them whether to stay and vote against the resolution, or leave.

“So now I say to those who have a doubt about how they want to proceed, that instead of doing what I said before — which was just to come and to treat this as a bill before the Congress and express my no — listening to the unconscionable presentation, I want to join my CBC colleagues in boycotting the vote when we have the walkout after we have the debate,” she said.

Several other Democrats also charged Republicans with making political hay against the Obama administration to help them in the November elections.

“When the history of this despicable proceeding is recorded, it will be said that your actions were politically motivated to discredit and defeat a president who has worked so hard over the past three years,” Rep. G.K. Butterfield (D-N.C.) declared on the House floor during rule debate.

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